In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “This new, optimistic approach of Moore’s lead to a movie that entertained me more than I ever expected.”
“This is the great big penis competition”
It’s been a long, long time since I cared about the work of Michael Moore. Don’t get me wrong, I totally agree with his politics, I think Bowling for Columbine is a really important movie, and I like that he has a platform to voice his views. I just don’t always like the way he chooses to voice those views. I think Michael Moore has spent his post Columbine years perfecting the art of preaching to the converted. I’m not sure his movies have ever changed a single mind about the issues he tackles, because I can’t imagine anyone who opposes his views ever actually watching a Michael Moore. He has an abrasive, combative, condescending tone that I feel like would only ever make those who disagree with him dig their heels in deeper, determined to dismiss anything he has to say. And I couldn’t have been happier to see my long held opinion of Moore and his work proven so wrong, with Where to Invade Next.
With the premise that America hasn’t won a war since WWII, Moore decides he’s going to take new approach to invasion. Instead of going after things like oil, or a strategical upper hand, or advantageous political manoeuvring, he’ll invade countries on America’s behalf in order to steal something much more valuable, he’ll steal their ideas. So Moore journeys around Europe, Scandinavia and Africa, looking for better approaches to economics, education, employment, health care, discrimination and anything else where he feels like America could learn a thing or two.
There’s the happy couple in Italy who get up to eight weeks of paid vacation time every year, mandated by law. The chef in France who makes healthy, four course lunches every day for a regular school in a modest income neighbourhood. The reactions to the Global Financial crisis that saw Iceland go from being the hardest hit, to becoming one of the world’s strongest economies in the years since. Plus countries with free tertiary education, true gender equality, prison systems with a focus on rehabilitation over punishment, and a whole range of progressive social, economic and political ideas that have gone beyond theory, to work in practice all over the world.
Like all Michael Moore movies, Where to Invade Next has a clear agenda and never pretends to be unbiased or journalistically objective. But unlike previous Michael Moore movies, it forgoes rabble rousing, finger pointing anger and frustration. Instead, it takes a much more optimistic, positive look. Actively highlighting what all of these other countries are doing right, it only alludes to what America is getting so, so wrong.
The same day I saw this movie, I coincidently saw an online clip of Donald Trump grunting his way through his own economic policy that, if he was elected, would see a decrease in the country’s already oppressively low minimum wage, because “we’re not gonna be able to compete against the world”. Which does lead to my one quibble with Where to Invade Next. I wish Moore had focused on less, so he could have gone into more detail about the logistics of how these ideas actually work in practice. It’s not that I don’t believe him, I just wanted a little more about HOW, to go along with all of the WHY.
Mentioning Bowling for Columbine in my intro made me think about that movie for the first time in a while, and it kind of depressed me. When I saw that over a decade ago, I couldn’t believe how insane the gun laws and gun violence situation was in America. Now, things have gone so far downhill, shootings like the inspiration for that do little more than raise the same stock comments from each side of the gun debate in America, and very little in actual outrage. That’s really sad. So while it’s great that this new, optimistic approach of Moore’s lead to a movie that entertained me more than I ever expected, I hope it does a lot more than that. I hope it actually gets under the skin of its viewers and stays there.